Marlin 1895 45-70 Brush Gun Build Part 1

1895 Marlin in 45-70 with Cerakote graphite black finish.

1895 Brush Gun Build

1895 Marlin in 45-70 with Cerakote graphite black finish.

Who doesn’t love a Marlin 1895 in 45-70?  This classic, hard hitting lever gun is a staple of American firearms and commonly encountered in the hands of outdoorsman everywhere.

With a stock barrel length of 22″, our standard model was a bit long for our tastes.  The guide gun is available from the factory with a 18.5″ barrel,  but comes equipped with a  straight stock that doesn’t handle powerful loads as well as the pistol grip version.  We set out to build a compact, fast handling brush gun.

Due to the number of steps involved in this build, we have broken the article down into two parts.  Part one will cover cut and crown of the barrel, sight installation, bobbing the hammer, filling dovetail blanks and finishing the rifle.  Part two will cover fitting and installation of the excellent MPI fiberglass stock.

In addition to the synthetic stock provided by MPI, we ordered the following parts and supplies from Brownells:

  1. Brockmans Gen 3 1895 Front Sight
  2. Brockmans Gen 3 1895 Peep Sight
  3. Marlin 1895CB magazine tube (to lengthen the magazine tube)
  4. Sight dovetail slot blank
  5. Hi-Force 44 Solder
  6. No. 4 Comet Flux
  7. Heat Stop heat control paste 
  8. Abrasive cloth

The following tools were used:

  1. CTK Precision Ultimate Gun Vise
  2. Magna-Tip Screwdriver Set
  3. Hack Saw
  4. Multi-Vise
  5. Brass one caliber muzzle chamfering set
  6. Do-Drill Cutting Fluid
  7. Drill and Tap Kit Number 2
  8. Micro tap guide
  9. 65 degree dovetail cutter (this is only needed if the magazine tube will be lengthened)
  10. File starter set
This article chronicles our brush gun build and is presented for information purposes only.  We are careful to follow all appropriate safety precautions when working with firearms, tools and refinishing supplies.


The stock Marlin 1895 45-70 with 22″ barrel safe and empty.
We used our CTK Precision Ultimate Gun Vise to securely hold the 1895.
The rubber lined jaws securely hold the rifle.  The rear vice block is adjustable to hold different firearms.
Prior to beginning work, we triple check that the rifle is safe and empty.  Using Magna-Tip screwdrivers, we carefully begin to strip the rifle.  It should be noted that most screwdrivers, which are not hollow ground like the Magna-Tip or gunsmith screwdrivers, can potentially damage screw heads.
To remove the bolt, we swing the finger lever down and remove the finger lever screw.
With the finger lever and finger lever screw removed, the bolt slide out the back of the receiver.
The factory two piece ejector simply lifts out of the action.
We continue disassembly until the rifle is completely broken down.  Small parts are secured in plastic bags to prevent loss.
After much debate about the final barrel length, we decided to cut and crown the barrel at 16.25″.  The barrel is wrapped in blue painters tape and a mark is made.  Remember to check federal and local laws regarding minimum lengths when cutting and crowning barrels!  
With the rifle secure in our Multi-Vise, we use a hacksaw and some Do-Drill to carefully cut the barrel on the waste side of the cut.
The factory barrel was 22″ in length. We cut our barrel to 16.25″, with this section removed, we hope to have a fast handling rifle.
With a set of rubber pads, we secure the barreled action vertically in our Multi-Vise.
Using a large half round bastard file the marks are removed from the saw. Note: we use chalk in our files to keep them from fouling.
This barrel chamfering set, with brass pilot, provides an inexpensive and efficient way to make sure the crown is perpendicular to the bore.  Since the headstock of our lathe was too long to cut and crown without removing the barrel from the receiver this method was selected.
To assembled the tool, the brass pilot is secured to the facing tool via a set screw. The handle is screwed onto the body of the tool.
We apply DoDrill to the facing tool, insert the piolet into the bore and begin rotating the tool clockwise.
As the facing tool cuts, support the body to avoid chattering. Note the raised outside edge of the barrel because the facing tool is smaller in diameter then the barrel. This raised rim will be removed with a file.
With a file, followed by abrasive cloth held taught against a file, the raised rim is removed.
Next, we insert the pilot into 45 degree crowning tool that is included in the kit.
With a coat of Do-Drill, the 45 degree crown is cut.
The 45 degree crown cut.
WIth a piece of abrasive cloth we break the sharp outside edge of the barrel. The cut and crown is now complete.
Heading back to the bench we decide on the location of the new front sight and lay out the new mounting holes.
Securing the barrel level in a vise.  The stopped holes for the front sight are spotted and drilled.
Since the front sight screws are shallow and DO NOT pass through to the bore, the holes are filled with wax.  A tap guide is placed in the mills chuck and a bottom tap is used to thread the hole.  We are extremely careful and turn the tap slowly.  Use caution, bottoming out the tap can potentially break it.
This is why you tap blind holes with wax and not oil: With the blind hole filled with wax, the shavings created as the tap cuts are displaced.
With our sight holes drilled and tapped, the front sight is installed   Note the location of the factory magazine tube.  We decided for ascetic reasons to lengthen the magazine tube on our brush gun.  Measuring from the muzzle, we determine the location of the new dovetail slot.
With a brass drift, we remove the magazine tube stud. Unlike the 60 degree factory rear sight cut, the magazine stud is fit in a 65 degree dovetail.
We secure the barrel in our milling machine vice and use a 65 degree solid carbide dovetail cutter to cut the new magazine tube stud slot.
We drift the magazine tube stud into place and then test fit the old magazine tube to make sure all of the parts are aligned.
The factory magazine tube is obviously too short. We use the long magazine tube from a 1895CB to fit a new part.
The 1895 CB magazine tube is much longer then what we need. We cut it to length on the lathe and then cross drill the hole of the magazine tube stud and screw.
To fill the dovetail left from the factory rear sight and magazine tube stud plug cuts, we use a section of dovetail blank soldered in place.  Since the gun is to be Ceracoated and not blued, this method will work  (bluing does take to solder)
We cut a piece of blank slightly longer then the slot we are going to fill.
Heat control paste is placed around the area to be heated.
Using Hi-Force 44 solder and #4 Comet flux, the solder is allowed to flow into the joint.
Using files and abrasive paper, the blank is shaped to match the contour of the barrel.
Our brush gun thus far, barrel cut and crowned to 16.25″, dovetail blanks filled and extended magazine tube and sights installed.
We decided to bob the hammer as well. This is the hammer before.
After a few light touches on the disk sander, here is our bobbed hammer.
After the parts are initially degreased, we blast them with 100 grit aluminum oxide media at 80 PSI. We always take the time to use compressed air to throughly remove excess media from the parts. The bore and chamber are both plugged with rubber stoppers to prevent fouling.
We use an airbrush to apply Cerakote. We have found running it around 40 PSI with a larger nozzle works well. We apply light and even coats. Be careful not to apply the coating too thick and not to make a drip. If you have a drip, clean the entire part with TCE and start over. Cerakote can be unforgiving at times.
We hang the parts in the oven and allow them to stand for 30 minutes before applying heat. Instructions call for 2 hours at 250 degrees for the finish to cure. This is our homemade curing oven- it looks a lot like a cheap gun safe doesn’t it? For a more through overview of our finishing process, click here.
All of the parts are finally reassembled with the addition of a Wild West Guns trigger and large loop lever.

In Part 2, we will fit and install the MPI stock.